The Sea Blues (2016)

Sculptural Collage
Found images, metal, wood

220 cm L x 84 cm H x 15 cm D (33” x 86” x 6”)
Commissioned by BALTIC for the exhibition Disappearance at Sea – Mare Nostrum, 27 January – 14 May 2017
Curated by Alessandro Vincentelli

The Sea Blues is a sculptural photographic collage composed of postcards, images gleaned from the internet, and images pulled out of Greek and Turkish tourist catalogues (from 1970s and 1980s). The work brings together representations of the Aegean Sea that cross geographical and historical boundaries. It focusses on the port cities of Smyrna and Thessaloniki, which are linked by parallel histories of migration (the exchange of population of 1922 between Greece and Turkey), as well as by the experience of devastating fires and subsequent urban modernisation. The found images are mounded onto metal and are layered off the wall. The depth of field transformes the collage composition into a sculptural object. The sculptural quality of the collage echoes the museological display of the diorama, as a window through which to peer into a carefully constructed landscape.

Structured along the horizon line, the found images outline a journey across the Aegean Sea that disturbs the narrative of a timeless tourist paradise and brings to the surface (it literally reflects) complex histories of movement and migration. Starting with a newspaper image of the current refugee crisis and traversing towards the fires of Smyrna and Thessaloniki (which signified the exchange of population between the Greek and Turkish states in 1922) The Sea Blues explores the layers of history deposited in the reflections of the water. In the work, the horizon becomes both the timeline of the journey and the boundary of the crossing. Marking a melancholic iteration on the ideological function of photography, the work also represents a shift in Gegisian’s practice towards the exploration of the spatial properties of photography and collage.

Collection Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, purchased with support by the Art Fund